Never Give IT Job To Civil Contractor

Linksys network switch

Here we present a real case as to why you should never give IT job to Civil Contractor. In Bahrain we have noted that customers tend to give Information Technology (IT) related tasks to civil contractors. Our guess is maybe due to lower pricing offered by civil contractor as compared to that offered by real IT companies like ours. Customers should not fall into the penny wise pound foolish trap. Civil contractors do not fully customers end requirement and in most instances do not have proper understanding of IT.

Few weeks’ back we were contacted by a GCC based company to assist them in their IT requirements. They were in process of opening a new branch in Bahrain. We got complete list of materials needed, right down to brand and models from their IT team. We were asked to quote pricing but we insisted on conducting site visit before we commit price to which our customer agreed.

The requirements were as follows:

  1. Avaya IP telephony system.
  2. Integration of Avaya telephony with company offices located in GCC an Africa to benefit from VoIP (Voice over internet protocol).
  3. IT Rack installation for 48 ports PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch.
  4. Installation and configuration of long range access points across office.
  5. Data cable termination for user workstations (Laptop + Avaya Phone).
  6. Time Attendance device installation and connection with head office in GCC country for payroll management.
  7. Fortigate firewall appliance installation configuration.

What should have been a walk-in-the-park job for us turned into an uneasy situation due to the civil contractor’s lack of understanding of the company’s IT requirement and its end use.

The office space chosen was in a newly built luxurious tower in one of the prime business are of Bahrain. Within 5 minutes of starting our site survey we found multiple issues with the job the civil contractor had completed. Here are few:

  1. Time Attendance device location has only power connection. No provision was made to Cat 6 cable which is essential for data connection with Head Office.
  2. The switch room was slightly smaller than needed to install 42 U Rack. Our staff would have difficulty in moving around to pull cables for inserting into patch panels.
  3. Switch room power box had only one power socket. We could work with this as we were to use 2 Power Distribution Units (PDU) however as a good practice 2 or more power box are essential in case of failure of one.
  4. The Cat 6 cable used was of very poor quality. It did not meet the minimum requirements of running Avaya and data transmission. It was brittle and could break easily if pulled hard. Copper content was very low and insulation very thin.
  5. Enough length of cable was not left in the switch room to easily pull it onto the patch panels. We would have to use extenders of which we are not big fan.
  6. Only one Cat 6 cable was pulled at workstation. The workstation was to be used by 5 staff. By default it should have been 1 cable per staff totaling to 5.  This issue was found in all workstations. Adding smaller switch at workstation was an option but we were pretty sure the idea would not fly with customer IT team. We also didn’t feel it right to add another layer when a 48 Gigabyte switch is close-by.
  7. Cat 6 cable provision was not made for access points.
  8. The conduit pipes used was packed with cable and no provision was kept for future requirements. New cables would be pulled without conduiting which again is not a good practice.
  9. Contractor gave incorrect information about the working of CCTV. They told the customer contact person that CCTV footage viewing can only be done by mobile and not on desktop. We know that there is an application for desktop viewing as well which can be used from any location globally

Our findings were relayed to customer IT team. The customer wanted to start full production as soon as possible. All staff hiring had been done but new staff were asked to wait. It took two weeks for the contractors to redo everything as per our requirement. Even then they failed to complete some of the requirements like using one face-plate for 2 data points. We volunteered to have it done if we win the IT contract.

The civil contractor not just delayed customers business opening but also added financial burden like office rent, electricity, staff salaries etc. It also made the customer loose on potential business if the office was to open on the pre-defined date set by the management.

The customer saved money by choosing a civil contractor over IT company but lost much more due to multiple delays in the project. Moral of this is that never give IT jobs civil contractor. Rely on experts like our company and let civil contractors do jobs which they hold expertise. Or else you may loose whole lot more than what you save.

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